What to Do When Your Career Blows Up, And Maybe Your Life


I hadn’t expected to like the human services job I took four months ago when I moved to Alaska. My world in Florida, where I’d worked my way up to assistant general manager, had crash around me. I’d been working 10-hour days and coming home sapped of energy. My partner of four years said a “never-at-home” partner hadn’t been “what she’d signed up for” and left me.

This situation stressed me beyond belief. I didn’t handle it well. I took my anger out at my boss and co-workers. I told off my boss, not once but several times and in front of others. He fired me.

I picked the state furthest away, packed up my car and came north to Alaska. When I got here, I knew I needed to change careers and found a low-paying human services position. It turns out I found my calling. Unfortunately, three weeks ago I learned I’d be laid off because our agency isn’t weathering the inflation and reduction in patron giving.

I know I wasn’t fired because I wasn’t doing a good job, that it was only “last hired, first fired,” but the fact I was working for peanuts and still got fired makes me feel like a loser. I’m having a hard time getting enough enthusiasm going to hit the streets and look for another job.


You weren’t working for peanuts; you were working for people, and in a job that you chose because you needed a career shift. You’re painting the whole situation blacker than it is because it’s the third time you’ve been slammed this year and you’re understandably taking it hard.

Since you’ve just moved to Alaska, and don’t have the network of friends you left behind in Florida, you may need to find a job coach to help you deal with loss and develop your skills for managing stress and anger — so you don’t again derail your career.

You also need as much reinforcement as possible, so ask your most recent supervisor for a reference letter. If you think your former boss has cooled down, you might give him a call as well, and see if he’ll give you a reference.

Meanwhile, it took guts to move across the country and make a career change, so dig deep into your inner well of courage by asking yourself “am I down and out” or “down, but not out”? If the latter, remind yourself that you had a viable job in management and recently developed additional skills in human service — thus opening up more job opportunities.

Dig in as well to what motivated you to drive across the country. Were you running from or running to? My guess — you wanted a different future and saw Alaska as the place to make that happen. If so, that dream still exists.

Sure, your first job ended, but you suffered only a temporary job setback and gained a calling. Further, you proved you could arrive in a new state and quickly land a job you liked. Enthusiasm builds when you focus on what’s going right and not what’s wrong.

Finally, we all fall down or experience setbacks. It’s what we do when we hit the ground that matters. Do we stay down or transmute our failures and get back up?  So, take another look at your present situation and make peace with it.

If you’ve been asking yourself, “why did I have to lose everything?” and “why did I screw things up?”, then change your questions into “how can I turn this into a positive?” and “what do I have to learn to achieve the future I want”?

If you found this post useful, there are dozens more in the career section of this blog, and you might also enjoy and find useful Solutions https://amzn.to/3ueSeXX which gives pragmatic answers to real-life challenges.

(c) 2022 Lynne Curry

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4 thoughts on “What to Do When Your Career Blows Up, And Maybe Your Life

  1. One huge advantage to this letter writer that I see is that pretty much every single industry in Alaska is begging for workers. Even with a black mark on their record, they should be able to pick up a good new job.

  2. Wonderful and hopeful advice here. Yes, change your thinking about the job loss into thoughts about possibilities. Remember why you came. Work to get the next job in your new location [Alaska!!] and keep on working on attitude, response to stress, etc.

  3. I’d feel pretty fortunate not to live in Florida right now with the hurricane that decimated so much of the state, but seriously, it is important to view context. You’ve left a job under a cloud but you had the courage to change states, change job titles and get your feet wet in a new environment, but mentally and physically. This is important–it’s called resilience.
    I did exactly the same thing 18 years ago and have no lasting regrets. I got fired from my first job that literally paid to bring me up here and neglected to tell me they could pay my way back if I didn’t work out. But I choose even now to see that fraud as an opportunity that brought me to Alaska and forced me to pivot, over and over. I have had many adventures, done things I never thought I was capable of doing, given up things I never thought I’d give up–and I am thriving. I’ve learned a lot! You can too. You have the right stuff. Pull yourself together, commit to finding another job and do what I’ve done: make it a job to find another job. Take short-term gigs in the meantime until you find the right fit. Consider opening your own business. Paste your resume on the State, Federal and specialty websites, and beware of pay-to-play sites that require you to pay for anything in order to get a job. I wish you the best!

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